Syagrus cearensis Noblick, Palms (1999+) 48: 73 (2004)

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Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (
Brazil Northeast present (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Brazil, locally common in mountainous areas and seasonal forests in the states of Ceará, Pernambuco, Paraíba, and Alagoas. (Noblick, L. 2004: Syagrus cearensis, a Twin-Stemmed New Palm from Brazil)A


  • In summary, Syagrus cearensis merits recognition. Some of the distinct attributes of this species are the common clustering habit with the strong tendency towards twins, fruit nearly as long as wide, evenly covered with a fine dark brown lepidote indument, presence of deltoid rachis bracts, sepals of staminate flowers usually narrowly linear and strongly keeled and a rather large distinct interior seed cavity. I am unaware of any other species of Syagrus with such a large seed cavity. Because of its predisposition to form twins, this species is a great ornamental. (Noblick, L. 2004: Syagrus cearensis, a Twin-Stemmed New Palm from Brazil)A


  • Palma caespitosa vel solitaria trunco conspicue articulato, foliis 2.3–3.5 m irregulariter pinnatis, foliolis centralibus ad 1 m longis 3.5–4 cm latis concoloribus. Inflorescentia ad ca. 1.2 m longa, rachillis ca. 35–45, floribus masculis ca. 12–21 × 5–7 mm, femineis 17–25 × 8–10 mm. Fructus lepidotus longior quam latus ca. 4 cm longus, endocarpio ad 5 mm crasso. Semen cavitatem ferens. (Noblick, L. 2004: Syagrus cearensis, a Twin-Stemmed New Palm from Brazil)A

Biology And Ecology

  • Growing at the base of the mountains or in pastures at an altitude of about 100–750 m above sea level. Flowering and fruiting probably throughout the year, but collected in flower and fruit during the months of July to September. (Noblick, L. 2004: Syagrus cearensis, a Twin-Stemmed New Palm from Brazil)A


  • The specific epithet honors one of the states to which the palm is native, Ceará, Brazil. (Noblick, L. 2004: Syagrus cearensis, a Twin-Stemmed New Palm from Brazil)A

Common Name

  • catolé or coco babão (babão translates as mucus or slobber and refers to the slimy juices of the mesocarp). (Noblick, L. 2004: Syagrus cearensis, a Twin-Stemmed New Palm from Brazil)A


  • This palm has great ornamental potential. The especially attractive character is its tendency to grow in pairs or as twins. (Noblick, L. 2004: Syagrus cearensis, a Twin-Stemmed New Palm from Brazil)A


  • Unarmed, solitary or clustering palm in clusters of usually 2–4 stems growing in one plane, to multistemmed clusters. Trunk to 4–10 m tall and 10–18 cm diam., internodes 9–16 cm long at the base and shortening to 2–7 cm long towards the apex, producing a rough trunk with slightly stepped nodes. Leaves 10–15 in crown, leaf sheath together with petiole ca. 90–100 cm long, sheathing leaf base 18 cm long or more, ca. 18 cm wide at the base, fibrous with papery membrane disintegrating between the fine principal warp fibers, persisting along the margins of the pseudopetiole (apparent petiole); true petiole absent or to 2 cm long and 4 cm wide by 2 cm thick, but often smaller, channeled adaxially, often with a raised central ridge, rounded abaxially, pseudopetiole (true petiole plus part of the sheath) ca. 40–50 cm long; rachis 2.3–3.2 m long, a fine light brown to grayish indument covering the abaxial side of the sheath, continuing up the abaxial side of the petiole and sometimes onto the lower portion of the leaf rachis, the upper parts of the leaf rachis becoming glabrous with age; leaflets medium green color becoming lighter when dried, concolorous, adaxial surface with prominently raised transverse veins when dried, leaflets ca. 100–130 along one side, irregularly distributed in loose clusters of 2–5 along rachis and inserted in divergent planes, ramenta absent, tomentum absent at leaflet insertion and along the abaxial midvein; basal leaflets 80–95 cm long by 2–2.5 cm wide, middle leaflets 68–100 cm long and 3–4 cm wide, apical leaflets 31 cm long and 0.4 cm wide, usually one lobe of the asymmetric tip attenuate, the other rounded, occasionally both rounded. Androgynous inflorescences interfoliar, 45–85 cm from the first basal primary branch to the apex; prophyll ca. 30–45 cm long; peduncular bract woody, sulcate, exterior covered with a thin indumentum, ca. 102–115 cm or more long including a beak 4–11 cm long, expanded or inflated portion 50–74 cm long, 13–16 cm diam. and a 14–26 cm perimeter and 1–3 mm thickness; peduncle ca. 40–80 cm long, somewhat flattened in cross-section, 2.5–3 × 1.5–2.5 cm diam., sparsely lepidote; rachis 33–60 cm long, primary branches 35–45, glabrous, 9–17 cm long at the apex, 30–50 (–106) cm at the base, 11–13 mm diam. at the base and 2–3 mm diameter at the tip, each primary branch, especially the lower ones, subtended by a deltoid rachis bract ca. 5 mm long, pistillate portion 12–16 cm long with 10–22 pistillate flowers or fruits per primary branch, staminate portion 16–20 cm long. Staminate flowers yellow, arranged in triads with pistillate flowers on the lower portion or in dyads or singly on the upper portion of the primary branch, 12–21 × 5–7 mm, sepals and petals 3; sepals (3–)5–6 × 0.5–1 mm, strongly keeled and slightly connate at the base; petals valvate, 12–20 × 4–5 mm with acute tips, nerves indistinct; stamens 6, 6–8 mm long, anthers 4–6 mm long, filaments 2 mm long; pistillode trifid and less than 0.5 mm long. Pistillate flowers oblong and pyramidal, usually slightly lepidote on the basal portion, 17–25 × 8–10 mm; sepals 3, imbricate, 14–25 × 7–10 mm wide; petals 3, unnerved to slightly nerved, imbricate at the base but (upper 5–7 mm) valvate at the tips, 11–14 × 6–8 mm; staminodal ring about 3 mm high, 6-dentate; pistil lepidote on upper portion, glabrous on lower behind the staminodal ring, 10 × 6 mm, stigmas 3, 2 mm long. Fruit light orange when mature, color often obscured by a thin dark brown indument, about as long as wide, 3.5–4.0(–5) cm long and 3–4 cm diam. with a 7–10 mm thick mesocarp and 3–5 mm thick endocarp, endocarp ca. 4 × 2.3 cm. Seed ellipsoid, ca. 1.8 × 1.2 cm, and with a substantial central cavity ca. 6 mm diam. (Noblick, L. 2004: Syagrus cearensis, a Twin-Stemmed New Palm from Brazil)A

Materials Examined

  • SPECIMENS EXAMINED: BRAZIL. Alagoas. União dos Palmares, 19 Nov 1985, R. P. Lyra-Lemos & A. I. L. Pinhero 1049 (PEUFR); 19 Nov 1985, R. P. Lyra- Lemos & A. I. L. Pinhero 1050 (PEUFR); São José da Lage, near AL-110, 17 Oct 1986, R. P. Lyra-Lemos & G.L. Esteves 1240 (PEUFR). Ceará. 1929, Dahlgren s.n. (F-613592); Forteleza region, near Mejecana, 1935, Dahlgren s.n. (F-620753a); Maranguape, 1940 Dahlgren s.n. (F-619724); Maraguape, Serra da Pacatuba (close to Forteleza), top and bottom of the Serra, Luiz Antonio F. Matthes s.n. 1993 (FTG); Pacatuba, Serra de Aratanha, 29 km S. of Forteleza, 3º58’S, 38º32’W, 600–700 m, 12 Aug 1994, Noblick et al. 4951 (Holotype, EAC; isotypes IPA, FTG, NY); Araçoiaba, Olho d’Agua, 8 km N of Araçoiaba, 4º15’S, 39º00’W, 13 Aug 1994, Noblick et al. 4953 (FTG, IPA). Paraíba. Santa Rita, 20 Aug 1962, Sérgio Tavares 960 (UFP); Conde, 22 km N of Goiana, Pernambuco on BR-101, 14 km N of the Paraíba/Pernambuco state border, 7º22’40.5”S, 34º57’26.6”W, 1 Jul 1997 L. R. Noblick & J. T. de Medeiros-Costa 5132 (IPA). Pernambuco. Tapera, 1929, B. Pickel 1208 (IPA); Pombos, 1966, Medeiros- Costa 66-0003 (IPA); Goiana, 1966, Medeiros-Costa 66-0009 (IPA); Triunfo, 27 Mar 1970, Medeiros- Costa 133 (IPA); Pombos, 1969, Glassman & Costa 8701 (F); 2 km W of Neves, associated with S. coronata and S. x costae, 1969, Glassman & Costa 8706 (F). (Noblick, L. 2004: Syagrus cearensis, a Twin-Stemmed New Palm from Brazil)A


    A. Noblick, L. 2004: Syagrus cearensis, a Twin-Stemmed New Palm from Brazil
    B. World Checklist of Arecaceae